Music by Harry Warren
Lyrics by Al Dubin
Book by Michael Stewart & Mark Bramble
Directed by Mark Bramble
Choreographed by Randy Skinner
Atthe Palace Theatre, Chicago
“Come and Meet Those Dancing Feet on the Avenue I’m Taking You to -42nd Street!”
Based on the 1933 film that saved Warner Brothers studio, producer David Merrick, believing in the 1980s nostalgia craze, decided to mount 42nd Street on stage. Directed by Gower Champion with music by Harry Warren and lyrics by Al Dubin, 42nd Street became an extravaganza not seen on Broadway in decades. From the show’s opening, which featured 40 dancers, to the terrific energetic show-stoppers, Merrick’ concept led to a run of 3,486 performances. People love tap shows! The 2001 revival of 42nd Street ran for 1,524 performances, followed by a successful national tour and several worthy regional productions at Candlelight, Drury Lane, Marriott, and Paramount Theatre. The more I see 42nd Street, the more I enjoy its infectious score and fantastic tap dancing. Amazingly, this current 2016 National Tour is a non-Equity affair but it doesn’t suffer from lack of terrific dancers. The dancing is near perfect, making this production the highest quality non-Equity tour I’ve seen to date!
Peggy Sawyer (Caitlin Ehlinger), the cutie from Allentown, arrives to audition for famed director Julian Marsh’s (Matthew J. Taylor) new musical – Pretty Lady. She meets the womanizer Billy Lawlor (Blake Stadnik) and has a run-in with Marsh. She doesn’t get cast but the girls from the chorus take her to lunch, where see dancers for them and choreographer Andy Lee (Lamont Brown). When Marsh finds he needs another girl in the line, Sawyer get the gig.
Meanwhile, the show’s star, Dorothy Brock (Kaitlin Lawrence), is a past her prime Prima Donna renowned for inability to dance. but she dates the show’s backer. Abner Dillion (Mark Fishback). so Marsh must adapt the show to Brock’s abilities. During the rehearsal of a dance number, Brock collides with Sawyer, causing the star to break her ankle. Brock blames Sawyer for the injury and Marsh fires Sawyer on the spot. Marsh decides to cancel the show since the star is unable to perform. The cast convinces Marsh that Sawyer can do the part so the show can go on. Marsh rushes to the train station to convince Sawyer to take the part. After the rousing anthem “Lullaby of Broadway,” sung by Taylor’s Marsh and the entire cast, Peggy agrees to do the show. Rejoice! A star is born in the best tradition of backstage fables.
What makes this musical extravaganza so entertaining is the bouncy, melodious score by Harry Warren that contains rhythmic tap music, a cute waltz, and toe-tapping jazzy tunes that explode into exuberant dances. “Go Into Your Dance,” and “Dames” – Ziefeld Follies-styled, together with the spectacular tap number “We’re In The Money,” highlight act one. Charm, humor, and a most likable cast of characters make us care about these struggling performers.
Act two features the moving anthem “Lullaby of Broadway,” “About a Quarter to Nine,” and the cute, sardonic “Shuffle Off to Buffalo.” The show ends with a hauntingly stylish and riveting dance to the sophisticated “42nd Street” song.
This fast-paced musical keeps the great tunes flowing; the eye-popping costumes and the humorous characters keep us engaged while the music keeps our toes-tapping. This show is a flawless, high-energy, wonderfully danced and sung fable that leaves audiences humming the songs long after the show’s over. A big, bold and brassy musical is never out of style – especially a major tap dance show such as 42nd Street. Audiences love this cute tribute to those glorious musical comedies from the 20’s and 30’s. Who doesn’t love an up-tempo tap dance number?
Talk theatre in Chicago podcast
Date Reviewed: March 9, 2016
For more info checkout the 42nd Street page at theatreinchicago.com
At the Palace Theatre, 151 W. Randolph, chicago, IL call 800-775-2000, www.broadwayinchicago.com, tickets $18 – $85, running time is 2hours, 40 minutes with intermission, through March 20, 2016